Moving to Chicago to be with her long-term boyfriend left Rachel happy to finally share a zip code with the love of her life but also feeling lonely because all her old friends are in New York and she has no one to have girl time with. Rachel decides to take matters into her own hands and over the course of the year goes on 52 girl-dates in hopes of making new friends, best friends no less. This is a chronicle of her adventures.
The curse of the introvert is that while I enjoy spending time with people I know, getting there (aka making friends) is a challenge. I frequently wonder how some people go from barely acquaintances to friends in no time with zero awkwardness and lately I've been thinking about the general subject of friendship more than usual. So when a friend gushed about this book I jumped at the chance to read it - here's someone asking the same questions and apparently she has answers!
Rachel's memoir is not just a collection of amusing anecdotes about her 52 new girl-dates in search of friends. She's also done some research on the subject of friendship and the narrative is liberally sprinkled with references to books and articles on the subject as well as summaries of her interviews with experts. This did give the book more of a dry air of an almost scientific article than I would have preferred but at least we know without a doubt that the author has thoroughly done her homework! She is also letting us into her life outside the friend-search, giving us a glimpse of how hew new husband was dealing with the whole thing (from what I can tell Rachel better hang on to her Matt, he’s a keeper), her existing friends' and family's support, and her own analysis of herself and her quest throughout the year. It’s interesting to see the transformation of her wish list for the perfect friend from tentative to defined and grounded in the present and her transformation from a young woman seeking companionship to a young woman who has much to offer not only to a potential friend but also to herself.
I really enjoyed reading Rachel’s insights into what it takes to build a friendship, her take on our culture where admitting that you are looking for friends is tantamount to admitting that you are a weirdo looser, and her thoughts about one’s spouse being one’s best friend (or not). I can relate to her nervousness starting out on this adventure and applaud her for not leaving a stone unturned, and for turning into a yes-woman of friend-making in the name of having a social life, which is obviously very important to her.
While I wouldn’t want to repeat Rachel’s experiment (‘exhausting’ doesn’t even begin to cover my impression of the commitment she made over the course of that year) many of the lessons she learned I would like to apply to my own life. After all, when has it hurt to have more friends?